Well, White Lebed asked me to take a look at her new blog and leave a comment... eh heh she should have known better :D It got so long... it's almost a post, so here it is:
After the moves of the last few weeks by LL, I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes in Waterworld, where the child Enola (Tina Majorino) turns to the Deacon (Dennis Hopper) while his ship is blowing apart and taunts calmly, "Was this your big vision?"
So Phillip has vision. All props to him for it; I well remember the crash of the VRML worlds in 1999, and If I would not have fled the larger net community in pursuit of 3D in the gaming worlds (the only ones to pick up the 3D torch at that time) I might have become Princess Linden, as I had a very early start in 3D development and construction...
I have visions; artists do that. So do madmen, housewifes, nuns, fakirs, mystics, geeks... having a vision is only the starting point. The sweat is in transforming that vision into something that can be shared with a wider audience. Usually, if a vision is big enough, it takes many more people to bring it into fruition. It also takes feedback and collaboration.
SL, to me, is still quite primitive compared to what I have seen in some of the more spectacular MMORPG like EVE Online and the Star Wars Universe. These latest moves by LL ominously remind me of the VRML debacle and the invasion of the vulture capitalists into the free net.
LL (or, more properly, their shareholders, who mostly don't give a rat's BUM 2.0 about whatever "product" they have sunk their little penny-claws into) doesn't seem to understand an ancient business principle: if you cut a baby in half, not many people will be willing to buy half a baby.
SL is still a baby, being eviscerated by these constant attempts to tail-gate and leech off other successful ventures like Facebook, Digg, et al.
[I am reminded of a hilarious line in Godzilla 2000, Toho Studio's beautiful and quite interesting reply to Sony Picture's "Godzilla" garbageheap. At one point, the UFO Orga monster is sucking Godzilla's Organizer G-1 DNA from him (which allows Godzilla to self-heal) and morphing into a copy of him. Yuji Shinoda (Takehiro Murata), the Dreamy Yet Hardworking Scientist turns to Mitsuo Katagiri (Hiroshi Abe), the Cold And Stupid Man Of Business and exclaims, "He's trying to become a clone of Godzilla!" An insightful slap at Sony for ruining/trivializing the Godzilla legend and a sly comment on the huge flop Sony had with their "let's try to make a Godzilla movie but without all the Godzilla stuff just the name!" debacle]
This is what I feel is happening/ruining SL for the last few years. The MBAs fresh out of Pinhead U. are scrabbling their "business models" in hopes of latching/leeching onto something, anything... when anyone in a technical field knows that fresh wet pieces of sheepskin are all nice and pretty and show that you are a good student who can regurgitate memorized answers but seldom mean anything more.
The moves by LL to fire, let go or whatever weasely and gutless metaphor they choose to use to describe the eviscerating of Second Life, the reduction of resources, the lack of response to issues widely-discussed and worried about by almost all CITIZENS of Second Life and the rest of the fiascos have me sadly deciding that Phillip's "return" is only as a figurehead/totem/fetish animal and means nothing to the world or to the citizens in it. It is just so much more MBA smoke, designed to let them keep their little trickle of income as long as possible until they flee a sinking ship; sinking by their own caving in the bulkheads, throwing supplies and provisions overboard, having key personnel walk the plank and raping the cabin boys (sorry boys :D)
I had a dream too, in 1996... of the metaverse. I have pursued that dream for many years, believing in the future of communication it would herald and the amazing possibilities in the medium. I have watched it grow only to be destroyed and set back 10 years by the predatory and illegal "extensions" Microsoft worked into their "free" browser in order to kill Netscape, VRML and much progress in these areas. I have watched the gamer's universe take up the flag and extend the world-concept to amazingly beautiful (full volumetric shadows, collision algorithmns, etc) places and yet be ignored by the "digiterati" in their discussions of the history of the medium and the contributions of that community.
I have watched countless companies go under (Geocities, Fortune City, Xoom, Virtual Places, Cybertown, The Palace, etc etc ad nauseum) in this same process of divorcing the creators and believers in a platform from the "business interests" who could care less if it's a VW or toilet paper, as long as they get their pinch of blood from "transactions." People who understand only the limited and distorted view of a shareholder's prospectus and don't know a damned thing about the "product."
You cannot buy and sell the future before it is born, and you cannot hustle a river. This shaving, deboning, crippling and gutting of the Second Life platform in search of saving pennies on some quarterly report is killing the entire goose that is making those pennies, which is Business Stupid 101.
This latest attempt to leech onto other successful platforms and spew flurries of buzzword-smoke is laughable to anyone with business sense who has also watched the web grow for the last 20 years. There is a prime rule in force in this medium: You Lag, You Lose. You cannot latch onto a successful and established platform years late; you should have either been there on the ground floor or caught on much sooner. How many Amazon or Ebay clones do you see maintain presence for more than a year? It don't happen. Do something else. Something original; something paradigm-shattering; something like Second Life was touted to be.
Trying to make SL into some buzz-2.0 mess is the most dangerous signal being propagated from LL these days :(
I'd like to have Phillip over for tea sometime. I am sure my passion for this medium at least equals his own, and perhaps he would listen to my earnest pleas and heartfelt suggestions on behalf of residents of his world and understand they come from no other perspective than love of his world.
Prolly won't happen... but you can dream.
BTW: Watching these ominous developments, I am hanging at Inworldz lately and through the generousity of Jeri Rahja and the encouragement of soror Nishi i have a place to build. Come see me!
ps- Qarl, i burned some sculpties for you :(
Once there were mountains on mountains
And once there were sunbirds to soar with
And once I could never be down
Got to keep searching and searching
Oh, what will I be believing and who will connect me with love?
Wonderful, wonderful, wonder when
Have you sought fortune, evasive and shy?
Drink to the men who protect you and I
Drink, drink, drain your glass, raise your glass high
David Bowie, Station to Station